My Struggle With an Anxiety Disorder + Tips for Living with GAD

Over the past two and a half years, I’ve written this post a dozen times, and they all sit as drafts.



My anxiety story is something that I only share about with people whom I feel need to know about it: my family, my boyfriend, people that I come across who are struggling and need the advice.

After so many years, I’ve realized everyone needs to hear this because in a way, everyone deals with anxiety. Some, like myself, have it in more severe cases where we are diagnosed, seek treatment, and maybe have even taken medication. But the bottom line is, anxiety creeps up on us at different seasons in our life and it’s important to know how you can get better. 

woolly threads - how to have a more productive morning



I never wanted to share because I always had this silly idea that I wanted people to think I was perfect or “goals” as they say today. A perfectly organized planner? Goals. A beautifully decorated bedroom? Goals. A great blog? Goals. Anxiety attacks, bouts of depression, and panic? Not so much goals.

Today, I’m finally sharing my anxiety story because these past few weeks have really showed me that it’s important to let people know they’re not alone. It’s important to feel like you have a friend (even if I’m miles and miles from you) who gets it.

And then, I want to share with you some things that have really helped me to deal with my anxiety and pursue a beautiful life.

So, I’ll try to keep the story of my anxiety short, but honestly, it started over 10 years ago, so it might be a little lengthy.

When I was really young (like 4 or 5) I was an emotional child. I cried every day when my mom or dad dropped me off at the daycare center at the YMCA so that they could go work out for a couple hours. I cried when the seams on my socks weren’t straight. (We had to buy me seamless socks… yes that’s a thing.) I cried when the tag in my t-shirt itched me. I was scared of birds, bees, heights, elevators, airplanes, tight spaces, and the spinny thing at the playground where you sat on a platform and were pushed round and round and round.


Other than that, I was a pretty happy kid. I laughed just as much as I do now with that same weird cackle that made other people laugh. (Not at my joke, but at the sound of my witch laugh.) But around 3rd and 4th grade I started to develop this early-onset self doubt. I was freaked out that the kids in my class secretly didn’t like me. I was convinced that I was ugly or not popular enough. When my parents would scold me for something small like not cleaning my room I would have a total breakdown thinking that they thought I was a bad kid.


So, my mom and dad decided I should talk to the school counselor once a week.

Mrs. T was really nice. The first day I went in she told me I was allowed to cry, scream, yell, and get any emotions out I needed to while in her office. She told me everything I told her was confidential and I didn’t really know what that word meant, but by her sweet smile, I assumed it was a good thing.

I saw her every week for a while and I explained to her that I didn’t feel good enough. That I always had something inside of me that told me I was bad or wrong or ugly. I remember telling her deep down I knew I was a good, strong person because I never got any bad grades on my report card or notes home to my parents from my teachers.

I suppose somewhere in those few weeks, Mrs. T told my parents I should see a psychiatrist. I remember my mom taking me to my pediatrician so that we could get a list of recommendations from her. I never felt bad about having to go to counseling because I really did feel better talking to people besides my parents. I could tell it hurt them to hear me say bad things about myself and it was easier talking to someone who was used to it.


I ended up in a dimly lit office with a nice lady who always had red finger nails and her hair in a pixie cut. She was really nice and always seemed to understand what I was saying even when I felt I wasn’t making very much sense. Some days I just talked and she would ask me questions about how I felt about certain things. Other days we did exercises where she would give me a box of markers and some paper and ask me to draw my anxiety. I would always color it gray because that’s how it felt. Like a dark gray cloud that would come over me that I couldn’t see through. Some days she put headphones on me with soft music playing and we would do our sessions normally, but with me listening to the music. I think it was supposed to soothe me, but I felt annoyed because I couldn’t hear well.


Red Finger Nails had me take a few tests. I remember that one was for OCD which seemed like a possibility for me. After we did all the tests, I was told that I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’m not sure what month or year this was, but I don’t remember being sad about the diagnosis. (I think I was 9 or 10.) I think I was glad to know that the terrible feeling in my chest and the spinning in my head had a name, and that there was a way to deal with it. 

Around this time, Red Finger Nails must have spoke with my parents about putting me on medication because at our next appointment, she explained to me that I would be seeing an additional doctor aside from her. He was a different kind of doctor because he could prescribe me medication that would help my anxiety.

I didn’t like Dr. Tall’s office as much as Red Finger Nails. His was really big and always busy. I would always have to wait at least two hours before getting in. In the waiting room, there was a big TV that always played Rachel Ray and he only had Parenting magazines – no Seventeen or Tiger Beat. There were always other kids my age in the waiting room. Some were really antsy and would flip through magazines really fast or keep changing the seat they were sitting in and it made me feel nervous.

Dr. Tall was pretty nice. He was more of a business man though and his job wasn’t to ask me about how school was going or how my relationships with my friends were. He would ask yes or no questions like “Do you feel more anxious on this dosage?” “Are you having trouble sleeping?” “Has your appetite gone down?”

The only other thing I didn’t like about Dr. Tall besides the long wait in his office and the lack of teen magazines was that the answer was always more medicine. 

Now – let’s pause right here because this is very important to anyone reading this: There is nothing wrong with taking prescribed medication for any mental disorder. Medicine really helped me to do normally teenager things and to not miss out on experiences.

anxiety 3 For the next 10 years, I took medication to treat my anxiety. Sometimes, I hit a happy spot where I had no side effects and felt great. Sometimes, I had horrible side effects and would only be on a particular medication for a couple weeks before demanding that I be switched. But once again, medication isn’t an evil.

My issue was, I was just always on so much. There was anxiety medicine to treat the anxiety, a different anxiety medicine to help the other, medication for depression to offset any side effects of feeling “down” or “blue”, and eventually, prescription migraine medicine because my other medicine gave me horrible headaches.

So that’s just the medicine part.

For me, anxiety has always come along with stress. When I get nervous or stressed about something, anxiety is mixed in right with those feelings like some horrible cocktail. School has always been something that stirs up my anxiety.

My anxiety also manifests itself in different ways. When I was little, I’d always feel horrible nauseous. I was sure that I was gonna throw up and would spend hours in the bathroom at concerts, school, summer camp, and other places because I had made myself so anxious I felt sick. Sometimes I get horrible chest pain where it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest. The burning will go away if I lie down, so I stay in bed for hours or leave school sick. More recently, I’ve dealt with pain in my lower stomach that either feels like burning, throbbing, or a squeezing pain. I’ve been checked out for endometriosis, I’ve had ultrasounds, I’ve done all sorts of tests for cysts and things like that, but I’m really convinced a lot of it’s anxiety. On probably my 8th visit to the Urgent Care clinic, the doctor looked at me and asked, “Do you think maybe you’re just anxious?” and I just looked at him and told him, “Yes, all my life.”

Now this is kind of a sad story. But I’m telling you all this because I know that if 1,000 people read this blog post today, at least 50% of you know what I’m talking about and are dealing with it, too. Anxiety is different for everyone: it feels different, it’s triggered differently, but the common ground is that it makes you feel horrible like each day is such a giant feat to be accomplished.

On New Year’s Day 2015, I decided I wanted to get off my medication and face my anxiety head on.

I didn’t want to rely on anything or anyone but myself to push against it and rise above it. I went to Dr. Tall and inquired about how I should begin backing off my medication.

He laughed in my face and said I’d be calling him in 3 days begging for my meds back.

So that just made me want to do it even more.

I went back to Arkansas for my second semester of sophomore year, got a new dorm room in a new hall with a roommate who was never there so I pretty much lived alone, and started backing off my meds while taking a full course load.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

*Note: If you’re unhappy with your anxiety medication and would like to back off of it, please consult your doctor. It’s very important that you do it correctly and slowly! It’s a hard process, but extremely worth it if you feel unhappy or like your medicine makes you feel worse. But again, there is nothing wrong with medication if it works for you. It helped me for a long time! 

This is the point in my life when I started looking for anxiety relief. I spent hours reading free books that I downloaded to my iPad. (The best one I found was called “How You Beat Anixety” by Ryan Shaw.) I watched Youtube videos from people who experienced something similar to me and who had tips of how to relieve anxiety in natural ways. I started getting active every day to keep my stress levels balances. I switched to a healthier diet so that I’d have more energy to tackle each day.

Cameron likes to remind me almost weekly that I got off my meds all on my own, but I really could not have done it without him. He was so patient with me and would walk with me for an hour in the freezing cold snow if I needed fresh air and would tuck me in to bed on the nights that I was having a particularly rough time. If I could only give you one piece of advice for dealing with your anxiety, it would be to have someone to lean on. Your mom, your dad, your sister, your best friend, your aunt. I believe God sends us people who can help carry us when we are feeling too down to hold ourselves up.

When I took my last pill on Valentine’s Day of 2015, I knew that it wasn’t the end of my anxiety. I knew that every day I would have to make the choice to continue pushing and relying on myself, God, and the people who love me to fuel me with the happiness and strength I would need.

I won’t lie to you – I still struggle a lot.

Some days, I feel perfect. Other days, I’m overwhelmed before I get out of bed. Some days I feel like anxiety is far far away on a deserted island. Some days I feel like no matter what I do, I can’t shake the panicky feeling in my chest and pit of my stomach. No matter what, there are things I do each day to help myself feel calm and like I can tackle anything.

Get enough sleep 

Your brain produces toxins during the day and the only way to get rid of those toxins is through REM sleep. You need your 7-9 hours. So I may go to bed early and call myself a Grandma for doing so, but there’s a reason.

Get fresh air and get moving

My dad helped me a lot when I decided to get off my meds. He told me that there had been research done to prove that just 20 minutes of light exercise can stop a panic attack or feelings of anxiousness. It’s hard, but when you really start to feel anxious, go to the gym and get on the elliptical for 20 minutes or grab your dog and walk around the block for a bit. The rhythmic movement soothes your body out of it’s panicked state.

Warm liquids help

A warm bath, a hot cup of tea, or both! Warmth soothes the body naturally, so I try to have a cup of tea before bed or take a bath if I’m feeling anxious. Sit and breathe deeply as you do so and you’ll really start to feel better!

Be educated

I watch Ted Talks, listen to podcasts, and watch Youtube videos that help me understand what exactly anxiety is, what is looks like anatomically in my body, and how I can ease it. It’s so soothing for me to do that research, because I feel like sometimes my anxiety comes from uncertainty. Pick up a book or watch a documentary to understand and feel a bit more at ease knowing that this is a chemical imbalance in your body, not rocket science.

Talk to someone

I’m a huge advocate for talk therapy, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it has to be a therapist. Talk to someone you love. Talk to a friend or mentor. Or, yes, even see a therapist. When you feel the anxiety coming on, it’s best to pick up the phone and ask to chat for a bit with that certain person who is a good listener and can really turn your mood brighter.

Know that this is something many, many people deal with. You will get through it.

If you have specific questions or need someone to talk to, I would love for you to email me. (

I can’t say that anxiety and how to deal with it will be a frequent topic on my blog. It’s not that I’m ashamed or embarrassed, it’s just that I always like to post positive, uplifting messages that leave you feeling great after reading them. I just felt that it was time that I shared such a huge part of what has shaped me, built me, and helped me to discover my own strength.

I hope you all have a beautiful rest of your week! Thank you for bearing with today’s long post!